Every Friday and Saturday night in October past a concrete and metal bridge on Lee Road 14 lies a plot of farmland filled with serial killers, ghosts and maniacal clowns.
Or, at least, actors pretending to be.
Sleepy Hollow Haunted Farm is home to a number of attractions, including zombie paintball, a haunted hayride, a haunted house and a haunted maze.
“[The guests] love all of it, but a lot of what I’ve seen recently is that the bus ride is everybody’s favorite,” said Meredith Brown, an employee at Sleepy Hollow.
Beyond the ticket booth there’s usually a long line waiting of people waiting to be picked up either by a tractor filled with bales of hay or an old repurposed bus to take them to the corn maze a short drive away.
As the bus rounded the corner of a dirt road one could see a clown balancing on top of it and the sound of AC/DC’s “Hells Bells” blasting from the bus’s speakers.
The clown on top of the bus was none other than Sleepy Hollow’s founder, Patrick Starr, who started the haunted farm during his senior year of high school.
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“My favorite part is seeing people smile, feeling like they’re entertained,” Starr said.
As the bus came to an abrupt stop under a tin-roofed awning where the guests waited, the clown on top of the bus swung from the rafters before finally jumping off and taking the steering wheel.
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As guests finished boarding Starr closed the doors, changed the song to “Highway to Hell” and sped down the bumpy dirt road, flickering the over-head lights on and off while a second clown traveled down the corridor yelling, laughing and staring closely in the faces of the vehicle’s passengers while occasionally banging against the walls and windows.
At one point Starr turned off the lights completely, including the bus’s headlights, leaving only the laughter of a crazy clown, the sound of heavy rock and the excessive swaying of a bus on uneven road that felt as though it might tip over or crash at any moment.
“We’ve had people say that think they’re going to die, which is what we want them to feel like,” Starr said.
After finally arriving to the corn maze entrance, employees separated guests into smalls groups under a large orange-red lamppost, the only source of light in the area, while sounds of chainsaws and screams could be heard deeper in the 10-acre corn field.
The haunted maze experience was a mixture of half-blindness, confusion and jump-scares as the creepiness of every path was heightened by the dim yet omnipresent orange light, the uncertainty of knowing where one is going and the paranoia of being constantly watched by invisible eyes behind the rows.
With its use of lighting and jump-scares, Sleepy Hollow’s haunted house relied on similar methods to instill fear, albeit more condensed.
Though the walkthrough was short, the haunted house was packed with unsettling strobe lights, dark turns around tight corners along with the always-unexpected sounds of chainsaws and screaming.
Chelsea Hayes, a guest who convinced her friends to come with her to Sleepy Hollow for her second time, said she enjoys going to haunted houses for the adrenaline rush.
“I was pretty scared to go in … I procrastinated for a long time,” Hayes said. “The hayride was pretty mild, but the haunted house took the cake.”
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